tv [untitled] March 7, 2012 8:30pm-9:00pm EST
and despite rising deficits, federal government cannot afford to cut spending on homeland security funds to state and local governments. as the first line of defense in protecting our homeland, federal government has an inherent responsibility to help insure the local departments can effectively protect the public. among the most infective federal programs to assist local communities and protecting the homeland are safer and fire grant programs. studied by the nfpa recently found that fire department capabilities improved a variety of areas funded by safe air and fire. there is increasing number of fire departments able to provide fire fighters with vital equipment such as radios, protective clothing and turnout gear. thanks to fire grants, more fire departments to day are able to train their firefighters in basic structural fire fighting, has mat response and emergency medical care. the needs assessment also found similar permits in staffing. all of this translates into improved public safety.
and firsthand the value of these programs. following the tragic death of two firefighters at a fast food restaurant in houston, houston fire department applied for and received $2 million fire grant to fund innovative fire grant survivability program that provided training for survival skills and may day prevention. although they are traditionally well funded, efforts to reduce the deaf fit caused a reduction in funding for the last two years. for fiscal years '10 and '11, they were funded at $810 million. fiscal 2012, however, funding was reduced to $675 million. the administration's budget proposal further reduces funding for safe fire for $670 million. reversing recent funding cuts to safe air and fire will insure that communities have the resources they need to protect the homeland. therefore, we recommend that the subcommittee provide $810 million evenly divided for the two programs in fiscal 2013.
in addition to safe air and fire grants, the urban search and rescue system is crucial to our homeland security. these are systems compromise of 28 national task forces equipped in exercised personnel capable of responding in natural and man made disasters. the state of texas is a proud sponsor of one such force. congress provided modest increases to the ustr and funding the program at $41.25 million in fiscal '12. the administration's budget reverse this is trend and cuts the funding by $13.7 million. the average cost to maintain a usar team exceeds $2 million, leaving local governments with bsh which sponsor the task force to fill the gap. many localities facing budget short falls themselves, sponsoring the teams is a burden they struggle to afford
significantly straining task force capability and readiness. for a minor investment, congress can significantly enhance the nation's preparedness to respond appropriately. we encourage the subcommittee to increase the funding in usar over fiscal year 2012 appropriation. lastly, we wish to express our reservations regarding the administration's proposal to consolidate 16 homeland security grant programs into the new national preparedness grant program. each of the homeland security grants was established in order to serve a specific and important public safety need. giving limited federal funding, merging these home lapped security priorities until a single block grant could cause such priorities to go unserved. as a major metropolitan area and a border state, significant rail and road freight and replete with hazardous industry, houston faces significant risk for
sayerist attack and other large scale disaster. and the targeted grants, grant programs have contributed to a more complete level of preparedness. we're also concerned that the national preparedness grant would be administered solely by the states without adequate input from local emergency managers and first responders who often have the best knowledge of homeland security threats and needs. the committee would carefully consider any grant proposal and seek the input of all stake holders, especially state and local government representatives and first responders before making major changes to current homeland security grants. again, i'd like to thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to testify here today and i'm happy to answer any of your questions. >> captain? pass the mike. >> pass the mike. mr. chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify. i'm captain john hole ams, director of operations for the port of los angeles. my testimony focuses on experience of the port of los angeles and apa's u.s. members.
my written testimony has been submitted for the record. i'll summarize it briefly before i answer any questions. in the decades since 9/11, a key component of the nation's effort to harden the security of sea ports has been the port security grant program. under the safe port act, the port security program is authorized at $400 million. unfortunately, in the last few years, the funding for this program has decreased dramatically. there were other adverse changes to the fy 2012 grants as well. first, the term of performance has been changed from three years to two years. although we appreciate the need to execute projects, we are concerned that such a move will shift the focus to buying stuff rather than developing solutions. the pass period performance made it difficult to excuse the solutions. the current period will make it impossible. cost share requirements have
been an obstacle. i appreciate that effective for grantee to have skin in the game, it is often overlooked that the skin that the ports provide is the on going operations and maintenance cost of the grant funded equipment or systems. this is particularly true with technology solutions where the annual operating cost can be as high as 10% of the project cost. another hurd sl the environmental and historic preservation review. while other fema programs must go through these reviews, there isn't the threat of a loss of funds because there is no timetable associated with these programs. while ehp streamlined some of the reviews, there still are major reason why many of the grant projects require an extension. the fy-2012 grant announcement includes improvements to the program by expanding the use of funds for maybe tennance and allowing the limited use of grants for personnel. we are also pleased to see that despite the funding cuts, all ports continue to be eligible.
restricting funding to the highest risk ports would leave a soft underbelly of unprotected ports for terrorists to exploit. we appreciate the willingness of dhs to work with the ports on grant issues, positive changes have been made and we hope that these changes will continue. we feel that over the time the pylon of infect of new requirements has had a significant negative impact on the program. for fiscal year 2013 and beyond, we strongly urge the committee to restore port security funding, keep the funding separate, maintain federal control, provide uniform cost share waiver and establish a joint dhs port group to streamline the process. in order to continue to be infective, the grant process must evolve in conjunction with port needs and vulnerabilities. working with dhs, efforts have been made to keep pace with this evolution. we fear that if ports are lumped
into the larger homeland security equation, efforts to date will be marginalized and the focus on ports will be lost. thank you. >> chairman, ranking member price, members of the committee, on behalf of the national fusion center association, thank you for inviting me. a lot has changed since i was here as the assistant administrator of the grant program's director. the administration's intent to streamline the grant programs based on risk and measure the impact is the right way to go given funding reduction that's have occurred. but there are a lot of unanswered questions. re-authorization of the preparedness grant programs, the president's proposals should be considered under the current construct of law. we would do a disservice to the progress made by creating a new patchwork program without authorization. after nearly five years, congress should reauthorize as soon as possible or make it clear to the department that the current construct of law should be followed. congress should also continue to insure that dhs measure the i
infect the programs have on preparedness. until they fully implement a budgeting system that assesses all impacts of federal investment, we cannot determine whether 100 new border patrol agents or another ten million in operation stone garden provides the best return on investment. the funding allocations and grant guidance continue to head in the right direction. the nfca urges the subcommittee to continue to support the secretary's efforts to focus funding on programs that support the analysis and sharing of homeland security threat information. that includes the sustainment of a strong national network of fusion centers. fusion centers helped transform the way federal, state and local and travel governments share intelligence information to protect the homeland just as envisioned by the 9/11 commission and the intelligence reform and terrorism prevention act of 2004. fusion centers analyze the national threat information at a local context, past chris call state and local information up to federal partners and intel general community and dem nature relevant actual information state and local decision makers
and all this has done while protecting privacy, civil liberties and civil rights. fusion centers are owned and operated and budged at the state and local level. a sustainment mod that will works in boston may not work in my hometown of montgomery. for example, the alabama fusion center budget was $800,000 in fy-11. 40% of that came from the state general fund and 60% from dhs preparedness grants. north carolina information analysis center budget was $683,000 in fy-11. 77% of that came from dhs and 27% from doj. flexibility from urban areas to determine how center is supported is essential element of the national network. simply put, the decentralized network is a national asset and it's the same as a shared responsibility among all levels of government. there is no other mechanism to leveraging more than two million public safety practitioners and the private sector in every corner of the country to protect the home land. let me conclude with a story
that shows the value. a local police officer in alabama made a traffic stop. based on plain sight observations, the officer asked to see the contents of a duffel bag in the backseat. inside the duffle back were four police uniforms and four police badges. when reviewed, each of them stated they were headed to a location in colorado and the occupants were allowed on their way. what haepz next shows how far we have come in taking pro active measures to protect the homeland. the officer completed a report and clicked the sar button in the alabama system. that went to the alabama fusion center which analyzed the information and contacted the colorado fusion center. the fbi has a presence in both of the centers. matters still being considered, whether this situation has to do with terrorism or some other criminal activity, a key point is that within hours federal, state and local officials can act positive prevent criminal activity were aware of the situation. this goes far beyond information sharing.
this is deep collaboration that makes our country safer and the fusion center an enabler. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, chairman, ranking member and members of the subcommittee so much for the opportunity to provide some brief comments this morning on our submitted statement for the record. we were very pleased to see the progress made by the administration in the 2013 budget proposal. we should be. because since june of last year and direct response to congress call for reform, we worked on developing a new comprehensive preparedness grant system. the current grant structure is complex and contradictory often. creating too many opportunities for uncoordinated efforts. as many on this committee stated before, the fiscal condition of this nation requires us to invest every dollar more wisely than ever. we appreciate your continued support over the years of the emergency management performance grant or empg, we remain committed to demonstrating to you the return on your investment in this program and recently released our second
annual report. we believe we can gain efficiencies in the grant system to increase the infectiveness of our mission. we can increase flexibility while gaining much needed accountability, changes must be made to the structure under which we operate. first, a skilled cadre is necessary to effect live complete the threat, hazard, identification, risk assessment or thira and a compressive planning process outlined. we propose keeping empg as is and begin a similarly structured grant for professionals allowing state and local focus on preventing terrorist acts to continue. one the thira is completed ashgs a planning process is required. grant planning efforts seem driven more by funding levels than on the capabilities we need to confront threats and hazards. we recommended turning this process up side down and allocate funding based on the thira and the development of capabilities to address gaps, buy down risks and build performance measurement in each project. the plan feed intelligent
investments and national assets. we like aspects of the preparedness grant program with the presence's 2013 budget but suggest it be project based. applications should be evaluated by a multijurisdictional committee prior to review by the state administrative agency, local governments should be encouraged to band together and apply directly. this opportunity for combinations of local governments to participate specifically addresses the question. due to the size and inherent threat, tier one cities should continue to be directly funded by allowing other combinations of local governments to apply directly, those remaining in the jurisdictions can continue participating in process and receive funding without that annual fear of falling off the list. overall, this process is about building and sustaining capability as cross the country, encouraging innovation, self organization and regionalization where local decision makers wish to do so. empowering local governments to decide which projects they want to fund, providing visibility to all levels of government and
helping remove applicatignizrde this country and accountability. these budget constraint times, nem sachlt committed to working with you and achieving both of these goals. through this process, we want to initiate a dialogue with all stake holders. we thank you for this forum to do just. that i appreciate the opportunity to participate in this hearing. i look forward to any questions you may have. >> thank you. >> thank you. good morning, chairman and ranking member and members of the subcommittee. i thank you for the opportunity to offer testimony. i am the director and general manager of the port authority transhudson corporation, a subsidiary of the port authority of new york and new jersey. today i'm testifying as chairman
of the security affairs committee of the american public transportation association. mr. chairman, according to the transportation institute, since 1970 more than 2,000 separate attacks have occurred worldwide on surface transportation causing over 6,000 deaths and approximately 19,000 injuries. the government accountability office along with various government agencies have reported on or testified to congress that public transportation in america remains vulnerable to terrorist attacks and that al qaeda remains interested in targeting the transit sectorment and that more needs to be done to prevent and prepare for such a potential attack. while we've been very fortunate to date not having a direct terrorist attack carried out in our transit systems, we have indeed foiled plots and arrested individuals who intended to attack our systems. let me especially note that path
experienced the tremendous devastation of a terrorist attack as the result of the horrific attacks on the world trade center in 1993 and 2001. for this and many other reasons, i feel strongly that the funding commitment to fortifying our systems must match the recognized risks and threats. there was a tremendous need for security grants to secure and fortify our trans it systems across the country. in 2010, an survey of the members found that security investment needs in excess of $6.4 million nation -- billion, nationwide. this stated need contrasts with the recent trends in cuts to transit security grant programs including the fy-2012 allocation of $87 million in transit security. i urge congress to restore appropriations for the transit security grant program and this and the subsequent appropriation bills. while this is -- while there is
good policy represented in the fy-2012 grant guidance and fy-2013 national preparedness grant program, we do have some thoughts about elements of both. specifically, we are concerned with the new 24-month grant period for performance on all projects, reduction from the previous three to five-year allowable expenditure period. also, since path assets are included on the top transit asset list, the ttal, i would welcome this risk base you had red fund ago proech, an appropriate that we agree with. however, speaking on behalf of the larger industry including thousands of assets not listed on the ttal, i recognize that the narrow funding approach could preclude other important security improvements from receiving funding consideration under such limited transit dollars availability. we're also concerned with the
elimination of the tsgp from the national preparedness grant program and we call for the sufficiently funded targeted grant program for public transportation security as envisioned in the 9/11 commission act. and finally, we support the approach that congress has consistently endorsed in legislation that allows grants to be provided directly to the transit agencies as opposed to requiring applications be made through the state administrative agency. before closing, i want to inject a personal note on behalf of the port authority executive director patrick void who along with myself and other senior port authority staff are honored to be hosting the chairman and ranking member price and committee members next week at the world trade center site. we're looking forward to showing you how the port authority has utilized and can continue to utilize federal homeland security dollars to support our own investments and security
initiatives at this site of national significance. that continues to be one of the highest risk targets in our nation. thank you for the opportunity to testify on these critical security these critical security issues, and i welcome any questions you may have. thank you. >> thank you, mr. depallo. the fy '13 grant proposal from the department builds on the reforms that this committee implemented back in fy '12. i would like to hear from you, each of you briefly to discuss proposed fy '12 guidance in the proposed fy '13 budget proposal. >> we made some recommendations in the written submitted and i did as well in the oral. the needs assessment is also
included in the written testimony. and it talks about some of the benefits that we have seen as a result of fire and safer. the amounts that we're requesting that we increase to are relative to the effect that we've seen of the grants over the last several years. and can you hear me? i didn't hear myself over the mic. i'm not sure how specific you want me to go on the answer there. okay. and it's included in the written testimony. there is a lot of evidence there that points to very specifically to the effect, to the positive effect of fire and safer. so i think it's important that we keep making progress. when you look at the needs assessment, one of the things it
absolutely points out is there are still staffing shortages across the fire service. and the effect of fire and safer to improve on that shortage is something i think we should build on. >> thank you. >> and i'll be very brief. i think that, you know, because the system of, you know, fundamentally working through the grant system has been so difficult, that there is a lot of obligated funding and grant funding. and people seem to perceive that as a difficulty with the ports and really not take a hard look at a system that has become, as i said, very cumbersome and has this huge sort of pile-on effect, particularly with requirements both state and federal, and requirements from historical state people and historical federal people. and it's just -- in our world, it's made it very, very difficult to execute money. so as a result, i think there is money that appears like it isn't
needed because it hasn't been executed. but i think realistically, the grant funding, port security grant funding is still needed. and my principle recommendation would be to restore the funding to the levels. it's been dramatically cut, about 75% over the period of the -- over the last three or four fiscal years. and in addition to that, really take a look at the grant system and try to fix that, and then you will be able to sort of execute all the funding. because as we go and try to do our day to day business, and we're a very large port with a very big staff, it is extremely difficult for us to deal with the grant process. and i can't even imagine how a smaller port can deal with the grant funding process. there is not a week that goes by at the port of los angeles where somebody doesn't just say this is so difficult, why don't we
just not ask for money anymore. so i think fundamentally, you have got to work with dhs and fix the system, because it's very repetitive. and if you're a port like we are, which is also associated with the city, the city of los angeles, we have federal requirements, procurement, environmental, historical. we have state requirements, procurement and environmental and historical. we have city requirements we have to deal with. you're making it so difficult to execute that i think that's got to be fixed. and when you fix that, people will be spending the money in the -- as it's given to you, and you won't have this lag where there -- it seems like there is this big pot of money left over that people don't need. it's not that they don't need it, it's just that it's very difficult to use it. >> the question going between
'12 and '13, i think it's very commendable what congress did this year in the y '12 budget, giving $974 million of budget to the department to allocate the funding based upon which programs met the national need. and i think that's commendable. and i think that the department went about that in a very professional and organized way. the 2013 proposal, as i mention in my brief oral statement, like i said, has some concerns to it if it's not -- if congress doesn't act to reauthorize. because it creates a patchwork program of between now and 1 october, assuming we have a 1 october appropriation is unrealistic. to me. so either reauthorize the program, or after five years, ordeal with the programs as '12 did under the current construct of law. i think that the president's budget as proposed could still
be implemented, using the implementing recommendations of 9/11 act, unless congress would like to open up the reauthorization issue. >> enough. mr. mullen? >> first 2012, we think the layout is a good transition towards where we have been towards a new system, because the flexibility is improved. running grants to the state we think is a good move to help with accountability and drawdown issue. in our proposal, they're still absolutely included. we just recommend that they are required to operate in the overall preparedness system. i think we're beginning to move in that direction so we can help them and they can help us and we can understand each other's issues. i will just say in case we run out of time, very few problems occur that occur within the boundaries of a port authority. the locals are involved either way. the economy is involved either way. we are very interested in working closely with those organizations, port and transit to make certain that we're
attending to their needs in this new system. and i don't believe that we will shrink from trying to assist them in every way and be very sensitive and respectful of their concerns. i think it gives them an opportunity to collaborate with us too. it isn't just it getting into them. between 2013, there are similarities between the anemic proposal we developed at the end of last year with the president's grant structure there is some concerns, though. the definition of regionalization needs some work. we need to talk about the peer review process. it appears to be a little more than an additional bureaucratic layer. i don't believe if we move to a system that we have federal review of every project when the locals and the states are collaborating closely on devising and deciding what would be the best use of limited funds. so there are issues about the urban area that i think still
need to be addressed. we've tried to address that in our paper. and in fact we've addressed most of the issues that have come up in our paper, which i think is in your request for brief response, i'll stop there. >> okay. thanks. mr. mullen? >> thank you. i agree with captain holmes in the idea of separating the funding for reports and for security. the security grant, by combining the programs, there is no guarantee that any money at all will go to transit security grants. as far as the 2012, the transit security grant program, there is only $87 millionprram. that's down from the previous year of 2011 where there was 200 million. and that's down from previous years. so the amount of funding needs to increase. in 2013, the elimination or the
reduction of the time to finish performance on projects goes from three to five to two years. congressman price mentioned a project like that you wouldn't be able to do. essentially what will happen is you'll be eliminating any major capital projects at all. it will all just be for operating expenses. and finally, we believe that the going through the states for funding believes just adds another step to the process. and it's not that's. most transit systems are already prepared to be able to accept grants directly, and there is no need to go through the states and just add additional administration to the program. >> thank you. mr. price? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank all of you for some very useful testimony, which we'll consider as we proceed to mark up this bill. let me just ask a couple